sstsomeday
Posts: 821
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 2:32 pm

How Do Airlines Commit To The 350 This Early?

Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:25 am

I was wondering:

How do airlines take the leap of faith at this point to order the 350 when it's specifications have yet to be defined? How can they confidently order ANY A/C, for that matter (A or B), at such a preliminary stage of development?

I have heard in this forum (although I cannot provide a link) that there are engineering skeptics who question whether the technology exists or will exist that can support the performance and economic predictions Airbus is making for the bird; such as being as or more efficient than the 787. (For example, It will not have full barrel composite technology or bleedless engines, from what I understand.)

Also there is risk, I would imagine, in ordering the 350 and thereby not taking any options for 787 delivery slots. If the 350 turns out to be not what is promised because it's not technically possible, or if the design has morphed into something quite different during development, then 350 launch customers have by that time missed the 787 boat for some time to come.

Is this part of the nature of being a launch customer; you assume additional risk and that's why you get the launch customer discounts?

There must be considerable risk assumed by an airline choosing to commit to an A/C that is not yet defined, but for a substantial discount, vs paying more (non-launch customer prices) for an aircraft which has had it's design frozen and is very clearly defined, albeit not yet proven.

This is not an Airbus dig. I am quite willing to be educated in this regard. What am I missing? Thanks in advance.
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Revelation
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RE: How Do Airlines Commit To The 350 This Early?

Thu Jan 18, 2007 10:27 am

Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
How do airlines take the leap of faith at this point to order the 350 when it's specifications have yet to be defined?

A lot of the A350 specifications have been defined. See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A350XWB#Specifications for a nice chart.

Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
How can they confidently order ANY A/C, for that matter (A or B), at such a preliminary stage of development?

It is indeed a risk, just like signing a contract for a house that hasn't been built yet. You mitigate the risk in a similar fashion: you only make small payments as the product is being built, and you only pay the bulk when the product is delivered as specified, and you include penalties in the contract if the product does not meet the specifications in terms of both physical characteristics and delivery time.
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JAAlbert
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RE: How Do Airlines Commit To The 350 This Early?

Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:14 pm

Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
I have heard in this forum (although I cannot provide a link) that there are engineering skeptics who question whether the technology exists or will exist that can support the performance and economic predictions Airbus is making for the bird; such as being as or more efficient than the 787. (For example, It will not have full barrel composite technology or bleedless engines, from what I understand.)

While I am no aviation engineering expert, it seems to me that the questions you raise would apply equally to the 787. With respect to the engine issue, since the bleedless engine is the new technology, I imagine that Airbus has all sorts of data supporting its claims with respect to the traditional engine. It is Boeing's claims re: the bleedless engine that lack real world data. It seems that Boeing regularly meets or exceeds its performance predictions on new aircraft, so there must be something besides lucky guessing behind the numbers. I am sure Airbus does the same (but did I read that Airbus' predictions re: the 340-500/600 did not hold up after EIS?)
 
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zeke
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RE: How Do Airlines Commit To The 350 This Early?

Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:45 pm

Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
bleedless engines

Little 350XWB briefing I have seen says it now has Electro-Pneumatic bleed system with 4 variable frequency electrical generation systems.

So we are talking the same sort of engine technology now, with a slightly larger fan, so most probably a slightly higher propulsive efficiency, being released a few years later, so we are also more than likely looking at slightly better thermal efficiency, overall a more efficient engine over the 787 GEnx/Trent.

I don't think they have gone as far as to say bleedless, as even on the 787 it is not bleedless, as it has a bleed pick-off for engine anti ice.

Many things have been adapted from the 380, including much of the cockpit technology. From the 330 the flight control system has been simplified, fuel system simplified, and landing gear has been simplified.

I can understand the manufacturing reasons for not going barrel, it would restrict them to transportation options of the fuselage shells. It would also would mean a large investment in oversized autoclaves, where present autoclaves could be used with the shell process. The tape layup on a barrel with the 787 the thickness of the layers differs around the circumference, around doors, and around windows, manufacturing it in 4 parts would allow for less complexity around the part and the framework for lighting protection, which in my view would make it cheaper to build.

With a total of 12 shells (panels) making up an entire fuselage, with some of the shells being twice the length of the 787 barrels I think they could potentially package it for three-nine suppliers to provide the shells, one for the bottom, one for the sides, and one for the roof (4 shells per section, 3 sections per fuselage).

While I think Boeing may have a slight advantage with the 787 fuselage with a slightly lower part count, I think they have a disadvantage on the wing which has traditionally always been the Airbus strength.

I think they have attacked this to be a much lower risk project than the 380, thus the reasons for simplifying systems, and using existing techniques that could be produced today in their present facilities.

With a 10-15 year fleet renewal process, Airbus must firmly be looking at replacing a lot of 330/340/777 fleets that are currently out in the market.
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sstsomeday
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RE: How Do Airlines Commit To The 350 This Early?

Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:54 pm

Quoting Revelation (Reply 1):
A lot of the A350 specifications have been defined. See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A350XWB#Specifications for a nice chart.

Thanks for that link. I'll check it out.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 3):
So we are talking the same sort of engine technology now, with a slightly larger fan, so most probably a slightly higher propulsive efficiency, being released a few years later, so we are also more than likely looking at slightly better thermal efficiency, overall a more efficient engine over the 787 GEnx/Trent.

Interesting.
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